How to Grow Plum Tomatoes

Roma Plum Tomato Plants

Meaty Plum Tomatoes are Great for Sauce and Tomato Paste

The vast majority of vegetable gardeners grow a few varieties of tomatoes in their garden. And anyone who grows them knows that meaty Roma plum tomatoes, and other plum varieties, are the best choice for sauce and tomato paste. While the fruit is much smaller than other tomato varieties, plum tomato plants are prolific producers. If you are not growing plum tomatoes, what are you waiting for? Take a few minutes to review our guide on “How to Grow Plum Tomatoes”.  Then, buy some plum tomato seeds and you’re on your way to a great garden, along with some fantastic sauce.

Plum tomatoes are characterized by their small, elongated “plum” shape, and meaty interior. They are the tomato variety of choice, for making juices and sauces, and are excellent for canning.  Roma Plum tomatoes are sometimes called sauce tomatoes.

Among the plum tomatoes, the Roma tomato variety is by far the most popular and well-known.

Did You Know? There is a small, cherry-sized plum tomato variety called “Baby Roma”.


Roma Plum Tomato Description

Determinate Roma tomato vines grow up to four feet tall. Plants are resistant to F, V diseases.

Days to Maturity: 80 from setting plants out in the garden.

The meaty fruit’s shape is cylindrical, egg-shaped, or pear-shaped. Medium-sized, red fruit weighs about 4 ounces.

They are excellent for canning, sauces, tomato juice, and ketchup.

Plants have disease tolerance to VFN, ASC, and ST. See disease resistance codes


Varieties of Plum Tomatoes

Here are some of the more popular varieties of plum tomatoes:

  • Amish Paste
  • Big Mama
  • Roma
  • San Marzano
  • Viva Italia

How to Start Plum Tomato Seeds

Tomato plants are usually started indoors. Planting plum tomato seeds is an exciting time. It is one of the very first gardening projects of the year. After a long winter, you are itching to get your hands back into some “dirt”.

Begin starting plum tomato seeds indoors in small containers, eight to ten weeks before the last frost date for your area. Sow tomato seeds about 1/8″ inch deep, using seed starting soil. Seeds will sprout in 10-14 days, depending upon soil temperature. Sprouting tomato seeds is quicker and more productive when using a heated germination mat.

As soon as the seedlings emerge, they need full sunlight to grow sturdy. Lack of sunlight causes the plants to grow “leggy”. Use grow lights to supplement the amount of available sunlight.

Tip: To help your plants grow sturdy, place a small fan on low nearby. Or, lightly brush the tops of the plants with your hands a couple of times each day.


How to Grow Roma PlumTomato Plants

Learn all about growing plum tomatoes:

  • How to Grow Tomatoes – From planting seeds to harvesting fruit, we’ve gotcha covered.
  • Staking Tomato Plants – Large plants and huge tomatoes require a sturdy tomato cage or staking to help avoid plant disease and keep fruit off the ground. 
  • Pruning Tomatoes – In fact, pruning helps avoid plant disease.
  • Plant Problems and Disease – Above all, remember the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Tomato Cages and Staking Plants

While plum tomatoes are a determinate variety, they still require either staking or caging for optimum plant health and maximum fruit production.

Maximize your crop, and minimize disease and insect damage, by staking or caging tomato plants. Above all, plum tomato plants will benefit. They will reward you with more tomatoes. The fruit will be cleaner, as they will not be sitting on the soil. More on staking tomatoes.

Insects and Pests

Tomato plants can experience insect problems with tomato hornworms, cutworms, and a few other garden pests. Also, if not staked or caged, snails and slugs will munch on the ripening fruit.

Birds will occasionally peck holes in red fruit.

Did you Know? Tomato plants emit a mild toxin that discourages many small insects from bothering them. This toxin can also cause skin itching and irritation.

About Tomato Hornworms

More on Tomato Plant Problems

Tip: Borage plants can be used as companion plants, to deter Tomato hornworms

Did you Know? Tomato plants (not the fruit) are used to make an organic insect repellent. See Tomato “Juice” Spray

Plant Disease

Several plant problems can arise, usually in the mid-summer heat and humidity. Blights and fungus infections can occur in high humidity. Early treatment with fungicides is effective. Spacing plants too close cuts down air circulation and promotes disease.

Blossom end rot can also affect the fruit. This is a round, brown, indented spot on the bottom of the tomato. It is caused by either uneven watering or a lack of calcium in the soil. More on Blossom End Rot.

Tip: Do not water at night if possible in hot and humid weather if possible. Moisture and humidity combined with high temperatures promote plant diseases. If possible, water at the roots.

More on Tomato plant disease

Plant Hardiness

Tomatoes like it hot! They will die if exposed to frost. Make sure to plant them after the last frost.

Tip#1: Cover your young seedling if frost is predicted. A simple and easy cover for small seedlings is to buy large or extra large plastic disposable cups. Place them over the seedling at dusk, and remove them in the morning. It is usually little or no wind on nights with frost, so they are not easily tipped over.

Tip#2: If you get a light frost overnight and you did not cover up your plants. Go out early before the sun rises, and spray your plants with the garden hose. This melts the ice off the plants and may save them.

Harvesting and Storing Tomatoes

Days to Maturity: 80 days from setting plants out in the garden.

Harvest plum tomatoes when they are fully red. You can pick them a few days before peak ripeness.  Then, they will store a little longer.

Garden Tip: Do not keep tomatoes in the refrigerator. They last longer and stay fresh longer if left in a bowl.

Garden Tomato Recipes

May we suggest:

When making large amounts of juice or sauce, you will need a tomato strainer and sauce maker, to easily remove seeds and skin.  See Tomato Strainers.

Related Articles

On the Light Side: See Tomato Trivia

Tomato Mania – In-depth information and advice from Garden Hobbies

Problems with Tomatoes – To begin with, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

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